PE-backed WIRB-Copernicus Group hires adviser for upcoming auction

PE-backed WIRB-Copernicus Group, which offers compliance- and eClinical-related services to drive efficiency in the clinical trial process, is gearing up for a sales process, according to four people familiar with the matter.

WCG’s backers, Arsenal Capital and MSD Partners, have turned to Centerview Partners for financial advice, three of the people said.

A process is not formally underway; however, a post-Labor Day launch is expected, one of the people said.

There may be some pre-marketing taking place already, this person said. Another person noted that large buyout funds are prepping for the company to come to market. At WCG’s size, there aren’t any logical strategic acquirers, one of the people added.

The people placed WCG’s Ebitda in the mid-$100 million range and said price expectations are likely in the 18x to 20x Ebitda range.

WCG, of Princeton, New Jersey, offers a range of services to accelerate and improve the quality of the clinical research. The company provides ethical review, study planning and site optimization, patient engagement, scientific and regulatory review services, as well as market intelligence and insights.

Donald Deiseo, an operating partner in Arsenal’s healthcare group, serves as chairman and CEO of WCG.

Arsenal is about six-and-half years into its investment, having acquired the company then called Western Institutional Review Board, or WIRB, in March 2012.

The New York firm in August 2016 led a recapitalization of WCG alongside other investors including MSD Capital.

In connection with the recap, Arsenal invested additional capital in WCG via Fund IV and said the firm would continue to retain a “significant” ownership stake through Fund II.

The anticipated process for WCG comes on the heels of Genstar Capital’s June acquisition of Advarra.

Terms of the transaction weren’t publicly disclosed; however, the deal valued Columbia, Maryland-based Advarra at approximately $1.3 billion, equating to an approximately 18x multiple of Ebitda, sources previously told Buyouts.

Existing investor Linden Capital reinvested alongside Genstar in connection with the transaction, while Northlane Capital exited its equity interest in full.

Representatives of Arsenal and MSD declined to comment, while those with WCG and Centerview didn’t immediately return requests for comment.

Action Item: Check out MSD’s latest Form ADV: